Rape joke councillor suspended

A councillor who made a crude joke about rape has been suspended until he writes an apology.

Eddie Wake was booted out of the Conservative party after the offending comments at a meeting with police in December.

He was also subject to an investigation by Sunderland Council after two female councillors made a formal complaint about the joke and other remarks.

Coun Wake, who represents Washington South, has now admitted at a standards hearing that he was wrong to make it.

The 57-year-old, who compared himself to comedian Bob Monkhouse during the investigation, claimed it was an "engineering joke" which he had often told – but had now stopped.

Coun Wake said he did not believe it showed a lack of respect for women, and compared it to the "black humour" of firefighters in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to keep their spirits up.

He said he "despised political correctness in all its forms" and liked to "prod" those who demonstrated it but had gone over the top on this occasion.

"I did something silly. I'm not a bad person, I did a bad thing. I did something wrong and I accept that," he said.

In a supporting document, he added: "I once again apologise unreservedly for any offence cause to whomsoever."

Coun Wake, who now sits as an "independent Conservative", said he had been maligned in the media, which had taken its toll on himself and his family.

He told the Standards Committee panel he had been taking antidepressants and had been thrown out of the Conservative party.

He claimed he had not been aware of the regulations and that they applied to the type of informal meeting he was at.

The panel found Coun Wake had breached regulations on two counts – treating others with respect and bringing the council into disrepute.

He must write a letter of apology, approved by council solicitor Bob Rayner, to the two female Washington Labour councillors who made the complaint, Jill Fletcher and Dianne Snowdon, and to the police.

He will be suspended from the authority until this is done.

The committee ruled other controversial remarks – referring to older people as living in "God's waiting room" and referring to a police officer as "a woodentop" – were unsuitable but did not breach regulations, and calling the Pc "black" did not breach equality rules.